NASA's Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt
Team to Transmit Messages to the Spacecraft During New Year's Flyby in the Kuiper Belt
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has traveled 13 years to reach the heart of the Kuiper Belt – but you can get there in a matter of hours!
In 2005, more than 430,000 people signed up online to place their names on New Horizons for its trek to Pluto and beyond. Now, with the intrepid spacecraft in the "beyond" phase of its voyage and poised to conduct the farthest planetary flyby ever, NASA's New Horizons mission team is offering the public another chance to send a message to New Horizons on its historic exploration of Ultima Thule — an ancient Kuiper Belt object a billion miles farther than Pluto!
Visit https://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Send-Greetings/ to select a message to send to the New Horizons spacecraft. You'll be asked to confirm your submission through email, and you'll receive an electronic certificate commemorating your participation.
On Jan. 1, as New Horizons is flying past Ultima Thule four billion miles from home, the messages and names will be "beamed" by radio toward the spacecraft and Ultima from the satellite communications facility at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory – on the same Maryland campus as New Horizons mission control!
"Traveling at light speed, the signals carrying these messages will reach the spacecraft about six hours after being beamed from the Applied Physics Lab's largest dish antenna, on the very same day that New Horizons flies by Ultima Thule!" said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. "How cool is that?
Entries will be accepted through Dec. 21, 2018. Like the flyby itself, this is a one-shot chance to become part of deep-space exploration history – don't miss it!